While water bottles may tout BPA-free labels and personal care products declare phthalates are not among their ingredients, these assurances may not be enough.
According to new study findings, we may be exposed to these chemicals in our diet, even if our diet is organic and we prepare, cook, and store foods in non-plastic containers. Children may be most vulnerable.
Phthalates and bisphenol A, better known as BPA, are synthetic endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Previous studies have linked prenatal exposure to phthalates to abnormalities in the male reproductive system. Associations have also been shown between fetal exposure to BPA and hyperactivity, anxiety, and depression in girls.
Fro the study researchers from UW School of Public Health and Seattle Children's Research Institute compared the chemical exposures of 10 families, half of whom were given written instructions on how to reduce phthalate and BPA exposures. They received handouts prepared by the national Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units, a network of experts on environmentally related health effects in children. The other families received a five-day catered diet of local, fresh, organic food that was not prepared, cooked or stored in plastic containers.
When the researchers tested the participants' urinary concentrations of metabolites for phthalates and BPA, they got surprising results. The researchers expected the levels of the metabolites to decrease in those adults and children eating the catered diet. Instead, the opposite happened. The urinary concentrations for phthalates were 100-fold higher than those levels found in the majority of the general population.
The concentrations were also much higher for children as compared to the adults. The researchers then tested the phthalate concentrations in the food ingredients used in the dietary intervention. Dairy products -- butter, cream, milk, and cheese -- had concentrations above 440 nanograms/gram. Ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper had concentrations above 700 ng/g, and ground coriander had concentrations of 21,400 ng/g.
Using the study results, the researchers estimated that the average child aged three to six years old was exposed to 183 milligrams per kilogram of their body weight per day. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recommended limit is 20 mg/kg/day.
"It's difficult to control your exposure to these chemicals, even when you try," said the lead researcher. "We have very little control over what's in our food, including contaminants. Families can focus on buying fresh fruits and vegetables, foods that are not canned and are low in fat, but it may take new federal regulations to reduce exposures to these chemicals."
Source: Nature Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, February 27, 2013
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.